During her tenure as CEO at BlackLine, Founder Therese Tucker was fast on her feet, a blur of color as she sprinted from one meeting to the next across four floors of the office tower that bears BlackLine’s name. A certified yoga instructor, she is equally nimble with words, a necessity given the arcane language of Finance and Accounting (F&A) that she has mastered. Her financial acumen and technological ingenuity have combined to make the work of hundreds of thousands of accountants more efficient and humane, lowered the stress levels of internal auditors and given CFOs extraordinary visibility into their organizations’ business performance, informing smarter decisions to enhance competitive standing.
Prior to launching financial controls and automation software leader BlackLine in 2001, Therese was the Chief Technology Officer at SunGard Treasury Systems. When she started BlackLine, she had more than 25 years in financial accounting and technology development experience under her belt and was focused initially on providing a wealth management solution to First National Bank of Nebraska. When an accountant expressed frustration over the bank’s manual processes to reconcile the books, Therese took notice.
A software programmer at heart (and someone who deeply detests waste and inefficiency), she put her nose to the grindstone and developed the first automated solution for account reconciliations. BlackLine, as we know it today, was born, albeit Therese was the sole investor at the time, balancing two school-age children at home with the demands of a burgeoning enterprise.
In subsequent years, she merged her two passions in technology and finance to the behest of Finance and Accounting organizations across the world, adding new functionalities that addressed the expressed problems of clients. Under Therese’s direction, BlackLine also was first to market with enterprise-class SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications automating the entire financial close process. It was an open field and business grew exponentially. The company now has users in approximately 150 countries served by over 1,300 employees worldwide. The impressive client roster boasts such global household names as Boeing, British Gas, Dow Chemical, DuPont, eBay, Northrop Grumman, Qantas Airways, Saint Gobain and United Airlines, to cite just a few.
Altogether, BlackLine touts at least 25 customers in the Fortune 50 and half of the Fortune 500. The company also has penetrated the ranks of mid-sized companies and has offices now in more than 15 cities around the world as BlackLine continues to add global clients, demonstrating the increasing demand worldwide for software to automate key F&A processes.
Running the business has required making risky moves. When Therese led the company’s shift to a 100 percent SaaS/cloud business model in early 2008, she was well aware this would restrict cash flow. Nevertheless, she believed the decision would encourage more customers to sign on because of the lower upfront capital expenditure. The gamble paid off—nearly all of the company’s SaaS customers increased the number of their licenses, generating an increasing volume of recurring revenue.
Today, many leading advisory and outsourcing firms, including Capgemini, Deloitte, EY, Genpact, KPMG and PwC, employ a growing list of representatives that are ‘BlackLine Certified Implementation Professionals.’ BlackLine also has formal strategic alliances in place with Capgemini, Deloitte, EY and KPMG.
In 2013, the BlackLine Financial Close Suite for SAP® Solutions became an SAP-endorsed business solution, joining the ranks of fewer than 40 other software offerings globally to be recognized by the enterprise application and ERP software leader. In 2016, Therese spearheaded the acquisition of Runbook, a Europe-based provider of F&A automation solutions to the SAP market, further solidifying BlackLine’s position as a leading provider of software solutions to automate and control the entire financial close process for SAP’s global customer base. Most recently, in 2018, BlackLine entered into a reseller agreement with SAP strengthening its long-standing relationship by giving SAP the ability to resell BlackLine’s market-leading cloud-based finance and accounting solutions globally. At the time, BlackLine joined only three other companies that had products resold by SAP as Solution Extensions for the Finance line of business.
In addition, BlackLine has been repeatedly recognized by global technology industry research firm Gartner as a Leader in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions and as a pioneer in the cloud market for enhanced financial control and automation.
Growth and Honor
After self-funding, bootstrapping and turning down several offers from venture capital firms, in 2013 Therese partnered with Silver Lake Sumeru, the mid-market arm of leading technology-focused global private equity firm Silver Lake, to undertake a recapitalization of the company and drive its next phase of growth. This vital financial commitment from Silver Lake validates the huge market opportunity for solutions that automate processes for the office of the CFO. In 2016, Therese went on to lead BlackLine through an IPO, debuting on the Nasdaq and becoming one of the first/only female tech company founders to take her company public.
Therese’s leadership, passion and persistence have not gone unrecognized. BlackLine ranked No. 7 on the 2016 list of the ‘50 Fastest’ Women-Owned/Led Companies in the world, as reported in Fortune. That same year, BlackLine was named to Forbes’ inaugural ‘Cloud 100’. BlackLine also has made the Software 500 list of the “world’s largest and best-performing software companies” for the past nine years, the Deloitte Tech Fast 500 for the past ten, and the prestigious Inc. 500/5000 for ten years in a row, joining the ranks of such high-growth brand name companies as Jamba Juice, Microsoft and Patagonia.
Many prestigious industry organizations have recognized Therese’s myriad accomplishments, as well. In 2010, Accounting Today selected her as one of '10 To Watch' in the accounting profession; and then eight years later, in 2018, named her to their annual list of the ‘Most Influential People in Accounting’. In 2011, San Fernando Valley Business Journal honored her as a ‘Woman of the Decade’ for her continuous accomplishments in building and growing the software company. That same year, she earned the 2011 Stevie American Business Award for Software Executive of the Year, awarded the previous year to Oracle’s Larry Ellison!
The accolades keep coming in. In 2016 alone, Therese and BlackLine were honored with ‘CEO of the Year’, ‘IPO of the Year’ and ‘Europe Deal of the Year’ awards. She also earned the ‘2013 Enterprising Women of the Year Award’ from Enterprising Women magazine, and both she and BlackLine received the Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Award that same year – a unique honor, recognizing the company for innovations that help companies save time, reduce costs and make life easier for those working in corporate Finance & Accounting.
Therese has been invited to speak multiple times at the Harvard Business School ‘Dynamic Women in Business’ conference and also at Columbia University’s ‘Women Leadership Summit.’ In addition to leading BlackLine and teaching yoga when time permits, Therese also has developed a tax/wealth planning software tool, which has been marketed to tax preparers and CPAs since 1998.
Therese believes strongly in giving a percentage of her salary to charitable organizations and causes. She is on the Board of California Community Foundation. On an ongoing basis, she has supported the Los Angeles Mission, Los Angeles Christian Health Centers, PATH, Brotherhood Crusade and Dream Center, a distributor of food to high-risk, poor areas of downtown Los Angeles. Therese has a personal goal to one day provide Dream Center with a technology/software platform that would automate the distribution process and allow the organization to deliver more food to more people.
Therese also makes every effort to get BlackLine clients involved in these endeavors. Before each Annual User Conference, the company conducts a community event engaging clients, partners and employees to work together as volunteers. One year, for instance, more than 80 people helped build homes in New Orleans through Habitat for Humanity. In 2017, Therese and BlackLine’s employees pledged to provide each of the 50,000+ homeless people in LA with something warm to wear, handing out more than 180,000 items during the holiday season.
As a company, BlackLine gives back to the local community in Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley through sponsorship of concerts in the park and benefits/events with the local Loaves & Fishes and Toys for Tots organizations. BlackLine employees also volunteer at least several days each year with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, GLIDE and Toys for Tots.
To people who know Therese well, these philanthropic initiatives go with the territory. In her business life, she is most proud of the ways in which BlackLine has made work more humane for people, relinquishing them from rote, repetitive manual tasks and freeing them up to spend more time with their families. Therese is on a mission to modernize corporate finance. The fact that these automated solutions generate revenue is merely icing on the cake. Pink icing.
CEO & Founder, BlackLine
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